BY BRIAN MCLAUGHLIN, TLI
DebateArtSTUART, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2016)
: Paul Stanton participated in the first debate of his campaign for U.S. Senate, and the Libertarian Party candidate took full advantage of Thursday’s opportunity behind the podium.

Stanton was on stage with five other qualified Florida candidates for the seat. The tone was civil and at times jovial, with none of the staged nastiness and drama Americans have endured in the presidential debates this cycle. It was a relaxed and friendly atmosphere where the focus wasn’t on the personalities, but their words.

RELATED: Why I am voting for–and volunteering my time–for Paul Stanton

The debate featured a mixture of America’s largest three parties–Libertarian, Democrat and Republican–as well as NPA and write-in candidates. Stanton will face off against Augustus S. Invictus in an unprecedented Florida Libertarian primary on Aug. 30. Invictus was one of the invited candidates who did not participate in Thursday’s debate.

StantonSmilingIn his closing statement, Democratic candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente made a point of calling out Invictus for not showing up to debate his Libertarian competitor, as well as calling out his Democrat opponents for also not being there.

De Le Fuente went on to urge Libertarians to get behind Stanton in the Aug. 30 primary because he took the time to answer questions for the people assembled and who were viewing at home.

Stanton fielded one question about social security, and answered on behalf of many young adults.

“There probably won’t be anything left because social security is a scam … it’s a system that is set aside as retirement insurance but only gets a 1-percent return,” Stanton replied, when asked about the system. “How many people here would put their money in a private CD for just a 1-percent return? … For the younger people, this is an insolvent system. Maybe we should have a choice. Maybe treasury bonds. At least treasury bonds are guaranteed by the constitution. Your social security check is only guaranteed by Congress’ whims.”

Some of the other issues discussed were immigration, drug decriminalization, national security and Florida’s issues with its waterways. A live online feed of the two-hour debate was made available.

RELATED: Q-and-A with Libertarian US Senate candidate Paul Stanton

StantonSignsThe candidates who debated were: Basil Dalack (NPA), Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente (DEM), Tony Khoury (NPA), Howard Knepper (WRI), Bruce Nathan (NPA) and Stanton (LPF). The qualified candidates who were absent either declined or did not respond to the two July invitations.

The moderators were local businessmen Barry Grant and Joe Duerr, who have hosted similar local forums in Martin County in the past.

Republicans, Democrats and Libertarian candidates will go through an Aug. 30 primary, while the NPA and write-in candidates already have a spot on the November general election ballot.

This year’s race for U.S. Senate includes incumbent Marco Rubio, who originally pledged not to run this year due to his campaign for President of the United States. However, after failing to win the Republican nomination, Rubio changed his mind in the 11th hour and filed to run just prior to the June deadline. He will face off against Carlos Beruff, Ernie Rivera and Dwight Mark Anthony Young in the Aug. 30 Republican primary, while Alan Grayson, Reginald LusterPatrick Murphy, Pam Keith and De La Fuente will compete for the Democratic nomination.

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